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201  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: North and South Korea on: August 30, 2017, 05:37:04 AM
"Scylla and Charbidis?"

Ding!  We have a winner!

Thank you.

I just saw a report that Ding Dong is now implying overflights of Guam are on the menu?  If he tries, I'm thinking it is time for action.
202  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / I did not enjoy reading this: on: August 30, 2017, 05:34:41 AM
The Arpaio Pardon
Liberal hypocrisy doesn’t justify conservative disdain for the rule of law.
By The Editorial Board
Aug. 27, 2017 6:31 p.m. ET

Candidate Donald Trump promised to abide by the rule of law that took a beating under the Obama Administration, and that theme may have helped him win the election. President Trump’s pardon late Friday of deposed Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio undermines that promise and further politicizes the law.

The 85-year-old Mr. Arpaio became a hero of many conservatives with his brazen style and tactics targeting illegal immigrants. His aggressive enforcement drew a lawsuit and court injunction, culminating in a contempt conviction last month. While Mr. Trump praised Mr. Arpaio’s long career of public service, that hardly justifies the sheriff’s defiance of the law he swore to uphold.

In 2008 the American Civil Liberties Union sued the sheriff’s office for racially profiling Latinos during traffic and saturation patrols. After several years of litigation, federal Judge Murray Snow ordered the sheriff’s office to stop detaining individuals who had not committed a state crime merely based on the suspicion that they are in the country illegally.

Two years later the judge found officers had violated his preliminary injunction and ordered anti-bias training, a court-appointed monitor and patrol cameras, among other remedies. In 2016 Mr. Arpaio was held in civil contempt for flouting the judge’s orders. He was also reprimanded for withholding video evidence.

Then last August Judge Snow referred Mr. Arpaio to the Justice Department for criminal contempt proceedings. In his defense, Mr. Arpaio argued that the court orders were unclear to him or officers. Because his violations were supposedly unintentional, he said criminal charges were unwarranted.

It’s true there was some confusion as to what officers were allowed to do under state and federal law. A 2010 state law required officers to check the immigration status of individuals during a “lawful stop, detention or arrest” when there’s probable cause they’re in the country illegally. Federal judge Susan Bolton blocked the state law in 2010, but the Supreme Court in 2012 upheld a central provision obligating officers to check individuals’ immigration status.

In any case, the legal uncertainty doesn’t gainsay Judge Snow’s charge that Mr. Arpaio lied to him and judicially appointed monitors. Hence the criminal contempt citation, which Judge Snow said was needed “to vindicate the Court’s authority by punishing the intentional disregard for that authority.” Criminal contempt is the only way to hold government officials personally responsible for violating court orders.

Mr. Arpaio may be right that the Obama Justice Department relished his prosecution, and some evidence presented at the trial was irrelevant to the case. But Judge Bolton considered the merits and, based on the evidence, determined that Mr. Arpaio had demonstrated a “flagrant disregard” for the law.

Mr. Trump’s power to pardon is undeniable, but pardoning Mr. Arpaio sends a message that law enforcers can ignore court orders and get away with it. All you need is a political ally in the White House or Governor’s mansion. Down that road lies anarchy. Attorney General Jeff Sessions understands this, which is why he reportedly urged the President to let the judicial process play out. Mr. Trump short-circuited the courts by pardoning Mr. Arpaio before he was sentenced or granted an appeal.

Some of our friends on the right say Mr. Trump’s liberal critics had no problem dismissing Congress’s contempt citations against former Attorney General Eric Holder and IRS official Lois Lerner as political. The left also supported the commutation of Bradley Manning, who leaked military intelligence.

All true and deplorable, but since when does liberal hypocrisy justify conservative disdain for the law? Mr. Trump should be setting a better standard than imitating Barack Obama, but polarized politics is leading America to a bad place where policy agreement or political support makes right. You pardon your lawbreakers and we’ll pardon ours.

Mr. Trump may hope the pardon will energize supporters, but it is also dividing the GOP. Even before the contempt citation, Sheriff Arpaio’s aggressive tactics were becoming unpopular, and in November he was defeated by 13 points. Mr. Trump’s disdain for federal judges also isn’t making friends in the federal judiciary that will have to rule on his decisions in the coming years. The Arpaio pardon is a depressing sign of our hyper-politicized times.

Appeared in the August 28, 2017, print edition.
203  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Stratfor, George Friedman, and GeoPolitical Futures on: August 29, 2017, 09:51:07 AM
Woof All:

George Friedman, the founding genius of Stratfor, has not been with Stratfor for a number of years now.  IMHO Stratfor is still quite good, but definitely not as good as it was before.  Friedman has recently unleashed GeoPolitical Futures and yesterday I subscribed.

204  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Mexico-US matters on: August 29, 2017, 09:47:55 AM
•   Mexico: Mexican government sources told Reuters that their government is studying the possibility of stepping in to replace Venezuelan oil program Petrocaribe if the government of President Nicolas Maduro were to fall. Petrocaribe is a trade initiative that provides subsidized oil to friendly countries. Cuba, a beneficiary of the initiative whose shipments have declined, has already had to limit retail fuel sales and request help from Russia. Mexico’s foreign minister was in Havana last week and reportedly tried to persuade Cuba to help fix Venezuela while reassuring Havana that Mexico will support it if Maduro falls. We need a better understanding of Mexico’s role in this situation. Is this the first sign of a more assertive Mexico?
205  DBMA Espanol / Espanol Discussion / Re: Venezuela Politica on: August 29, 2017, 09:47:00 AM
•   Mexico: Mexican government sources told Reuters that their government is studying the possibility of stepping in to replace Venezuelan oil program Petrocaribe if the government of President Nicolas Maduro were to fall. Petrocaribe is a trade initiative that provides subsidized oil to friendly countries. Cuba, a beneficiary of the initiative whose shipments have declined, has already had to limit retail fuel sales and request help from Russia. Mexico’s foreign minister was in Havana last week and reportedly tried to persuade Cuba to help fix Venezuela while reassuring Havana that Mexico will support it if Maduro falls. We need a better understanding of Mexico’s role in this situation. Is this the first sign of a more assertive Mexico?
206  DBMA Espanol / Espanol Discussion / Re: Mexico on: August 29, 2017, 09:46:48 AM
•   Mexico: Mexican government sources told Reuters that their government is studying the possibility of stepping in to replace Venezuelan oil program Petrocaribe if the government of President Nicolas Maduro were to fall. Petrocaribe is a trade initiative that provides subsidized oil to friendly countries. Cuba, a beneficiary of the initiative whose shipments have declined, has already had to limit retail fuel sales and request help from Russia. Mexico’s foreign minister was in Havana last week and reportedly tried to persuade Cuba to help fix Venezuela while reassuring Havana that Mexico will support it if Maduro falls. We need a better understanding of Mexico’s role in this situation. Is this the first sign of a more assertive Mexico?
207  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Russia-Turkey, Georgia, Caucasus, Central Asia on: August 29, 2017, 09:43:06 AM
wrong thread  cheesy
208  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / George Friedman: What a Korean Agreement May Look Like on: August 29, 2017, 09:42:25 AM
second post of day:

What a Korean Agreement May Look Like
Aug 24, 2017

By George Friedman

It’s a toss-up whether the United States and North Korea will sue for peace or opt for war. Still, there appears to be interest on both sides in easing tensions. U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has even intimated a possibility for direct talks. Informal talks have taken place for the past few months, of course, but these would have clearer imperatives: that Pyongyang not fire missiles at Guam and that the United States reduce the amount of military exercises it holds with South Korea. But is it even possible to reach a settlement on the terms they want?

The U.S. demand is easy to state but difficult to implement. It wants North Korea to reverse course on its nuclear weapons program. Merely halting the progress Pyongyang has already made would enable North Korea to resume development at a later date. In fact, earlier agreements fell apart because they neglected to include such a provision, and so the North Koreans were able to pick up exactly where they left off. Hence the current crisis.

Correcting that mistake would entail dismantling certain facilities and, since the U.S. would never expect North Korea to honor its commitment, Washington would demand permanent inspectors with unfettered access to every facet of the program to remain in the country. So while the U.S. demand may seem modest, it is in fact radical. Simply forfeiting a nuclear weapons program would give Pyongyang nothing. The government is unlikely to accept peace on these terms unless it can demand some substantial concessions from Washington.

This brings us to North Korea’s demands, which are much broader than Washington’s. Pursuing a nuclear weapons program, one meant to discourage any threat to the regime and thus ensure its survival, demanded a huge amount of resources. The North Koreans have not come this far simply to walk away with nothing to show for it. If they were to agree to abandon their program, they would do so only if another means of security were in place.
 North Korean soldiers look at South Korea across the DMZ in 2011 in Panmunjom, South Korea. CHUNG SUNG-JUN/Getty Images
This would likely require a new regional framework whereby the U.S. would enhance North Korea’s position at the expense of its allies. The framework would also have to weaken U.S. influence in the region, perhaps by relinquishing its relationship with South Korea and withdrawing its forces from the peninsula, or perhaps by keeping its Navy out of the Sea of Japan. Maybe U.S. aircraft would be prohibited from flying near Korean airspace, and maybe Washington would have to rework its treaties with Japan so that its troops there did not threaten North Korea. In short, if North Korea must abandon its military capabilities, so too must the United States, or so the thinking of Pyongyang would go. The U.S. will not alter the regional balance of power lightly. And even if it did, it would have to consider the financial burden of propping up the government in Pyongyang. The United States is unlikely to accept this.
War is the one option the U.S. has to prevent North Korea from completing its nuclear weapons program – if it has not done so already – without giving up anything (except blood) in return. But, as has been widely discussed, this option would be difficult and bloody, and if success is measured by the elimination of all nuclear facilities, there is no guarantee that it would be successful. North Korea is not particularly keen on the prospect of war, either – it knows war introduces the possibility of annihilation. But it has come to read the fear in South Korea, which would likely bear the brunt of the war, as a check on U.S. intent. This dramatically reduces the chance of war.
That means North Korea has options and therefore the upper hand in negotiations, at least for now. It can press on with its nuclear program, or it can, in theory, negotiate a redeployment of U.S. forces. If there are no negotiations, North Korea gets a nuclear weapons program. If there are negotiations, and the negotiations fail, North Korea gets a nuclear weapons program. If there are negotiations, and the negotiations succeed, North Korea will lose its nuclear weapons program but gain a tremendous amount of concessions from the United States. Either way, North Korea comes out ahead.
Of course, agreements have been made and broken before. If North Korea surrendered its program, the U.S. could renege on whatever promises it made, re-establish military ties with South Korea, and re-deploy its naval and air forces. The government in Pyongyang understands as much – even expects as much – so it is highly unlikely to reverse course on its program.
It is easier to hold talks than to reach a settlement. It is easier to reach a settlement than to honor it. And this is why wars happen. Wars create a finality that diplomacy can’t. Sometimes.
209  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Stratfor: Russian opportunity in US Sanctions on: August 29, 2017, 09:08:14 AM
I have been hammering the themes in this piece around here for years:

For Russia, an Opportunity in US Sanctions
Aug 29, 2017
By Ekaterina Zolotova

The standoff between the West and Russia got more complicated when Washington imposed new sanctions against Moscow. The Europeans were quick to criticize the sanctions. Germany’s foreign minister raised concerns about U.S. intentions, France questioned the sanctions’ legality, and the European Commission president made threats that he later had to walk back. Suddenly, to the Kremlin, the sanctions looked less like a setback and more like an opportunity. If Russia can play the victim, it may be able to drive a wedge between the U.S. and the EU, more sympathetic as Brussels may prove to be.

There’s just one problem: Sanctions are just one way the U.S. is pushing back against Russia.

Russia has long been a major supplier to the European energy market. Put another way, Russia’s economy depends on its sales to Europe’s energy market. So Moscow took notice when recently the U.S. delivered its first shipment of liquefied natural gas to Lithuania, a country that at its nearest point is just more than 400 miles (650 kilometers) from Moscow. In fact, U.S. natural gas shipments have been appearing all over Europe lately in the wake of the American shale gas boom. This is the sort of encroachment that Russia is compelled to respond to. The challenge for Moscow is to do so without appearing threatening to Europe and thus pushing it closer to the United States. One place it might be able to do that is the Caucasus, specifically around Georgia and its breakaway republics, the very place where Russia announced its return to history in 2008.

Breakaway Territories

Russia has always kept a close eye on the Caucasus. This complex region has historically been riven by conflict. The most recent was, of course, a war between Russia and Georgia in 2008 over the breakaway Georgian republics of South Ossetia and Abkhazia.

Russian troops are still stationed in the republics. In fact, South Ossetia’s military was integrated into the Russian military in July as part of a 2015 agreement that provides for the formation of common defense and security between Russia and South Ossetia. The South Ossetian military is small, and its incorporation will not significantly affect the strength of the Russian army. It does, however, attest to Russia’s long-term plan to absorb a united Ossetia. Whether it can is another question, leaving open the possibility that Moscow will have to make do with a restive republic that is militarily if not politically beholden to the Kremlin.

Russia also plans to strengthen its position in the Caucasus by focusing on energy agreements. It wants to create a vast space for cooperation in Eurasia – with Moscow in the dominant spot, of course. The most important part of this plan for Russia is to establish control over the region’s oil and gas pipelines. Doing so will give Moscow control over energy supplies to Europe even if the supplies are not directly sourced in Russia.

The recently introduced sanctions, as well as the conflict in Ukraine, have delayed Russia’s plans to increase the supply of energy resources to Europe. The Caucasus, through which Europe also receives energy resources, gives Moscow a way to get back on track The Caucasus is poised to become a larger provider of European energy because several countries in Central Asia and the Caucasus (especially Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan) are rich in natural resources, including oil and natural gas. And the EU is eager to diversify its energy supply – relying too much on one supplier puts it at risk of disruption. The European Union currently receives almost 40 percent of its oil supplies from the countries that make up the Commonwealth of Independent States, a Russian-led confederation of states that generally cooperates on economic matters. Russia accounts for 27 percent, while Kazakhstan provides almost 7 percent and Azerbaijan about 4 percent.
Europe gets oil from this region through the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline and the Baku-Supsa pipeline, and natural gas flows through the Baku-Tbilisi-Erzurum pipeline. All of these pipelines transit Georgian territory. That’s a source of strength for the Georgian government, but it’s also a vulnerability.

In late July, the Russian armed forces advanced the borders of South Ossetia slightly, putting a small stretch of the Baku-Septa pipeline within South Ossetia’s territory. This gives South Ossetia – or really, Russia – the ability to cut off supplies, or at least siphon off what it wants. Georgia could avoid this stretch of the pipeline, but not without incurring the added cost of loading the natural gas onto trucks or trains and shipping it overland.

Russia’s Reply

Herein lies Russia’s reply to U.S. actions.  The U.S. ramped up natural gas deliveries to Europe, so Russia took hold of part of a Georgian pipeline that supplies gas to Europe. The U.S. led seven other countries in Noble Partner 2017, a large-scale military drill in Georgia, so Russia launched its own military drills in the North Caucasus and South Ossetia, which included about 16,000 Russian servicemen. And Russia completed the accession of South Ossetia’s army into Russian forces.

Georgia wants stronger ties with NATO. To strengthen them, it has to distance itself from Russia. But as long as Russia has leverage over the oil and gas passing through Georgian territory, it can’t do that. Georgia was the first country to abandon the post-Soviet identity and try to escape from Russia’s sphere of influence, but it can’t exist isolated from the Caucasus region. This, plus its dependence on energy supplies, obligates Georgia to cooperate with Russia in the energy sector in the Caucasus.

Russia has demonstrated to the U.S. that it can counter U.S. energy imports to Europe and continue to have significant control over the energy flows between the Caspian region and Europe. Recognizing the potential of the Caucasus region, the EU has been participating in the development of its energy sector. So it is important for Russia to maintain and strengthen its influence in the Caucasus. Russia has the ability to influence regional authorities as well as BP, which operates in the South Caucasus. The timing and energy focus of Russia’s pivot to the Caucasus indicate that this is part of Moscow’s response to U.S. sanctions.

It is in Russia’s interest to increase control over the pipelines passing through the territory of Georgia, but every move Russia makes to achieve that goal makes Europe more suspicious of its intentions, thus making it harder to drive a wedge between European countries and the United States.
210  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / GOP risks spending confrontation with Trump on: August 29, 2017, 09:01:41 AM
211  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / NRO: Antifa and America's political culture on: August 29, 2017, 08:38:28 AM
212  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Bolton on how to exit from the Iran nuke deal on: August 29, 2017, 08:37:22 AM
213  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: North and South Korea on: August 29, 2017, 08:24:31 AM
On Special Report last night one of the panelists commented that the Norks have overflown Japan three times previously, but apparently not for many years, thus this is the first time since the Norks have gone nuke.   He added that in the Norks mind it may be that they are badly pressed by the dramatic decrease in oil etc due to the new sanctions and as usual feel the need to do something in response to the US-Sork joint exercises.

I'm not seeing anyone yet making the connection that I am-- that an overflight enables an EMP attack.  Perhaps one of the sundry policy makers who read this forum  grin will act upon this?

Back on August 11 President Trump spoke about there being immediate consequences if the Norks messed with us or our allies and there also was his comment that sure sounded like the threat of nuclear devastation.

In "The Odyssey" there was a chapter where Odysseus was sailing between between two monsters and the slightest miscalculation would have led to the doom of his crew and him.  (Names of the monsters?)  President Trump (and we with him) is now sailing between being revealed as a blusterer or a warmonger.  The man's lack of gravitas and the disloyal opposition's near treasonous mindset make him an exceedingly poor candidate for explaining to the country (which has lost its collective mind) what needs to be done.

CCP may be right, it may be game over.  If so, this also means China gets the South China Sea.

FWIW IMHO we do still have game to play.  Trade War with China (Coincidentally Trump is making big tariff noises right now) and enabling the Japanese to go nuke are both big cards to play.
214  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: North and South Korea on: August 28, 2017, 11:42:11 PM
If I have this right, haven't the Japanese now allowed the precedent and by so doing given the Norks the option of putting them into the 18th century at will?
215  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / With EMP being a possibility, isn't this an act of war? on: August 28, 2017, 07:52:28 PM
Stratfor Worldview

Aug 29, 2017 | 00:07 GMT
North Korea: Latest Missile Test Overflies Hokkaido, Lands in Pacific
North Korea launched a ballistic missile that flew over the northern Japanese island of Hokkaido before landing in the Pacific Ocean.

Save As PDF
At around 5:58 a.m. local time, North Korea launched a ballistic missile that flew over the northern Japanese island of Hokkaido before landing in the Pacific Ocean. Early indications are that the missile had a flight time of around 14 minutes, had an apogee of 550 kilometers (340 miles) and splashed down some 2,700 kilometers from its launch point. While these numbers point to a medium-range ballistic missile, the possibility remains that the North Koreans either tested an intermediate-range ballistic missile (IRBM) with an early engine cutoff or were experimenting with a heavier warhead. Alternatively, the missile could have failed before reaching its full theoretical range. The latter possibility is reinforced by reports that the missile broke into three parts before landing.
The launch site of the latest missile test is believed to be near Sunan, where Pyongyang's international airport is located. Launching from this site continues the trend of North Korea testing its missiles from diverse locations across the country. This makes it harder to predict where and when the next North Korean weapons test will occur. It also adds to the difficulty of targeting North Korea's dispersed missile arsenal in a conflict scenario.
North Korea is heavily constrained by geography when it comes to testing long-range missiles. There is virtually no direction in which North Korea could launch an IRBM or intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) at a standard or minimum-energy trajectory without overflying another country's territory. Previously, Pyongyang sought to sidestep this constraint by testing its long-range missiles at a lofted trajectory, which minimizes the flight distance from the launch point by maximizing the apogee of the missile's flight. North Korea has done this with its latest ICBM and IRBM tests this year. This type of flight profile places more stress on its missiles, but Pyongyang wants to test its long-range missiles in a standard trajectory because it is the trajectory that it would rely on for missile attacks against Guam, Hawaii or the continental United States.
Because of its limitations, the missile flight path of today's launch is the least provocative one North Korea could have chosen for a standard trajectory test. The part of Japan that was overflown is lightly populated, and in the event of an accidental impact on Japanese territory it carries the least risk of damage or casualties.
In the past, Japan has emphasized its willingness to shoot down any North Korean missile deemed likely to land on Japanese soil. Tokyo, however, has maintained an ambiguous line on whether it would intercept North Korean ballistic missiles overflying its territory. It is risky to try to do so, since a miss could publicly undermine confidence in the country's ballistic missile defenses. Japan also doesn't want to encourage North Korea to test missiles that overfly Japanese territory, though until now Pyongyang has largely limited itself to high-trajectory tests that would splash down in the Sea of Japan or in Japan's exclusive economic zone. Having tested a ballistic missile over Japanese territory — and not one disguised as a satellite launch vehicle, as in previous cases — the North Koreans will feel more emboldened in continuing ballistic missile tests over Japan.
216  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Stratfor: India and China back off , , , for now on: August 28, 2017, 05:58:07 PM
Strat's take on it:

It can be difficult to separate the important from unimportant on any given day. Reflections mean to do exactly that — by thinking about what happened today, we can consider what might happen tomorrow.

A months long standoff on top of the world is finally drawing to a close. On Aug. 28, the Indian Ministry of External Affairs released a statement saying that a "disengagement" of troops has begun on the Doklam Plateau. Doklam — a disputed territory between China and Bhutan — was the site of the confrontation between Indian and Chinese troops as India intervened there in June to halt a Chinese road construction project. India feared the road would have eased China's ability to bring troops closer to the neighboring state of Sikkim and to India's Siliguri corridor, which links the Indian mainland with its northeastern wing. The drawdown highlights how the costs of war outweighed the benefits of aggression for both sides, for now.

Still, the timing of the draw down is conspicuous. China will host the Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa (BRICS) summit on Sept. 3. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi — who was already a no-show during China's Belt and Road Initiative summit — has not confirmed attendance. This is problematic since China would prefer to use BRICS to showcase its harmonious ties with member nations — something which Modi's absence would almost certainly undercut. So it's possible Modi used the threat of his absence as a bargaining chip to goad China into an agreement in which Indian troops backed off in exchange for China's promise to stop building its road. China confirmed neither, but India's decision to back down suggests the affirmative.

In any case, Doklam is a small part of a much bigger story. India and China share a 4,057-kilometer (2,521-mile) border known as the Line of Actual Control, and nearly all of it is in dispute. For instance, in the northwest lies Aksai Chin, a territory in Kashmir that India claims but China has administered ever since capturing it from India in 1962, when the two countries fought a short, sharp border war in which China emerged the victor. Then to the northeast is Arunachal Pradesh. China captured much of the area in 1962 but subsequently withdrew. China, however, still claims Arunachal Pradesh as "South Tibet," and Chinese troop incursions along the poorly demarcated border are not uncommon.

For India, these vulnerabilities compelled a shift in strategy. Initially, India had intentionally built few roads in the border region to blunt the movement of Chinese troops during another potential invasion. But in 1997, India instituted the China Study Group to propose the construction of border roads, partially in response to China's own infrastructure activities along the border. Many of these roads are incomplete, and Doklam has only drawn attention to their importance. Prior to the standoff, in fact, Modi had prioritized the construction of these 73 strategic roads.

India's desire to bolster infrastructure along a contested border suggests border confrontations with China will continue. This is part of the natural friction that arises when two large countries share a boundary that unfolds across the indomitable chain of the world's tallest mountains. But how that tension manifests is important to watch. A standoff is one possibility. But so are less drawn out measures such as the recent scuffle that took place near Pangong Lake in Aksai Chin. These will also continue.

The more interesting question is whether India and China can continue preventing their disputes (of which Doklam is only one part) from spilling over into other aspects of their overall relationship. So far, this compartmentalization has broadly held. For instance, the two countries issued a joint proposal calling for the World Trade Organization to banish $160 billion in farm subsidies in the United States, European Union, Canada, Japan and Switzerland. And on June 20 — after the standoff began — China's East Hope Group signed a $300 million deal to set up a solar power manufacturing plant in Gujarat, India. Finally, the navies of both countries will participate in the Indian Ocean Naval Symposium in November.

But will this compartmentalization continue to hold? China's cooperation with Pakistan, in particular, has placed unique stresses on China-India relations. The advent of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, China's refusal to sanction the Pakistan-based militant Masood Azhar and China's refusal to approve India's membership to the Nuclear Suppliers Group are all irritants that are compelling India to strengthen its ties with the United States and Japan, and to undermine China by promoting freedom of navigation in the South China Sea. It remains to be seen whether contentions can be contained within the security sphere, or if they will work to sabotage the countries' broader relationship. So even as the Doklam standoff winds down, India and China's strategic rivalry will only ramp up.
217  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / ZOA's concerns about McMaster on: August 28, 2017, 05:53:41 PM
Caroline Glick endorses this article
218  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Sansour on: August 28, 2017, 01:53:17 PM
OMG  cheesy cheesy cheesy

219  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Sansour on: August 28, 2017, 01:52:14 PM
220  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / NRO: Voter Fraud Prevention case on: August 28, 2017, 11:46:17 AM
221  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Gen. James N. Mattis on: August 28, 2017, 09:10:37 AM
222  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Jordan: on: August 28, 2017, 08:58:56 AM

“We will partner with King Abdullah of Jordan…”

King Abdullah was singled out by Trump as one of America’s partners who realize the “ideology of death must be extinguished.” Yet, in a speech Abdullah gave to the U.N. General Assembly in which he addressed “extremist terrorists” and their desire to “erase human civilization, and drag us back to the dark ages,” he chided Western officials, media leaders and policy makers for not understanding the “true nature of Islam,” which he said “teaches that all humanity is equal in dignity. There is no distinction among different nations or regions or races. The Qur’an forbids coercion in religion. Every citizen is guaranteed the state’s protection for their lives, families, properties, honor, privacy, and freedom of religion and thought.”

Clearly, part of Trump’s challenge with such “American partners,” is their failure to acknowledge the extremist parts of Islam that contribute to Islamist terror – namely the lack of religious freedom in Islamic societies including Jordan (as well as a host of others who are called “American partners.”)

Islamic blasphemy is on the books in Jordan. Also, in Jordan, Jews are not even allowed to pray in private or wear hidden articles of Jewish significance.

During the recent crisis on the Temple Mount in Israel – in which Israel installed metal detectors at the entrances to the mount after weapons were smuggled inside and used to kill Israeli police officers guarding the site for all worshipers — King Abdullah sided with the Waqf, the Islamic authority that administers the site and which demanded the metal detectors be removed. After the crisis was resolved (through Israel removing the detectors), Abdullah promptly pledged $1.4 million to the Waqf, which refuses to allow any prayer at the site except Islamic prayer.


I post this because it brings up a few things I did not know, but IMHO is misleading because of things it leaves out:

a) Israel has an embassy in Amman and when a Isreali security guard killed two Jordanians under circumstances under dispute, he was allowed to leave due to diplomatic immunity;
b) King A. consistently denounces jihadi kamikaze attacks wherever they occur.  It is perfectly reasonable for him to take the tack of saying that Daesh and its ilk are not really Islam-- see Reply#7 above
c) King A. consistently manifests openness with Christianity.  Churches need not hide and the Crusader era monastery at Mt. Ebdo (where Moses got to see the Promised Land that God would not let him enter) has been lovingly restored and is hosted by Catholic monks and has been visited by the Pope.

Worth noting is that some 60% (working from memory here) of his population is Palestinian and he has over one million Syrian refugees.  Don't let the perfect be the enemy of the good.
223  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Has President Trump kept his promises on rooting out Islamic Fascism? on: August 28, 2017, 08:51:14 AM
224  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / White House POC? on: August 28, 2017, 07:52:36 AM
225  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Side effect of Arapaio pardon on: August 28, 2017, 12:24:22 AM
Not very polished but the main point seems valid:
226  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Anita in Berkeley 2.0 on: August 28, 2017, 12:21:44 AM



227  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / President Reagan comforts a black family who had a KKK cross burned on its lawn on: August 27, 2017, 04:47:32 PM
228  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / President Reagan comforts a black family who had a KKK cross burned on its lawn on: August 27, 2017, 04:47:02 PM
229  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / The Antifa mindset on: August 27, 2017, 04:02:52 PM
230  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / MEF/Efraim Inbar: Who is up and who is down in ME on: August 27, 2017, 03:49:17 PM
Who's Up and Who's Down in the Middle East
by Efraim Inbar
Israel Hayom
August 24, 2017

The Middle East has been transformed by state collapse in (clockwise from upper left) Libya, Syria, Iraq, and Yemen.

Since the Middle East events of 2011 (mislabeled "the Arab Spring"), the region has been in turmoil. The inability of the Arab statist structures to overcome domestic cleavages became very clear. Even before 2011, Lebanon, Iraq, Somalia, as well as the Palestinian Authority failed to hold together. After 2011, Syria and Yemen descended into a state of civil war. Similarly, Egypt underwent a political crisis, allowing for the emergence of an Islamist regime. It took a year for a military coup to restore the praetorian ancient regime. All Arab republican regimes were under stress. While the monarchies weathered the political storm, their future stability is not guaranteed.
Growing Islamist influence put additional pressure on the Arab states. The quick rise of the Islamic State group in Syria and Iraq was the most dramatic expression of this phenomenon that spread beyond the borders of the Middle East. Despite its expected military defeat, the ideology behind the establishment of an Islamic caliphate and variants of radical Islam remain resonant in many Muslim quarters. Therefore, the pockets containing ISIS and al-Qaida followers, as well as the stronger Muslim Brotherhood are likely to continue to challenge peace and stability in the Middle East and elsewhere.

The Sunni-Shiite divide has come to dominate Middle Eastern politics.

The Sunni-Shiite divide, a constant feature of Middle Eastern politics, has become more dominant as Iran becomes increasingly feared. The 2015 nuclear deal (the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action) between Iran and world powers has been generally viewed in the Middle East as an Iranian (Shiite, Persian) diplomatic victory. Shiite-dominated Iraq (excluding the Kurdish region) turned into an Iranian satellite as well, while the military involvement of Iran and its proxies on behalf of Syrian President Bashar Assad in Syria appears to achieve the completion of a Shiite corridor from Iran to the Mediterranean. Iran continues its long-range missile program unabated and makes progress even in the nuclear arena within the limits of the flawed JCPOA. Its proxies rule Baghdad, Beirut, Damascus, and Sanaa, signaling increasing Iranian clout.
In contrast, the Sunni powers display weakness. Saudi Arabia (together with Sunni Turkey) failed to dislodge Assad, Iran's ally, in Syria. Saudi Arabian Crown Prince and Defense Minister Mohammed bin Salman‎ pushed Saudi Arabia into a more muscular posture, but failed to win the civil war in Yemen -- its backyard. Moreover, Riyadh has not been successful so far in strong-arming its small neighbor Qatar into dropping its pro-Islamist and pro-Iranian policies.

Egypt is an important Arab Sunni state in the moderate camp. Yet the traditional weight it has carried in the Arab world is lighter nowadays, primarily because of its immense economic troubles. Providing food for the Egyptian people is Cairo's first priority. At the same time, Cairo is fighting an Islamist insurgence at home. This situation, which leaves little energy for regional endeavors, is hardly going to change any time soon.

Israel is now an informal member of the moderate Sunni camp.

Israel is an informal member of the moderate Sunni camp since it shares its main concern -- the Iranian quest for hegemony in the region. While powerful and ready to use force when necessary, Israel, under the leadership of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, is reluctant to interfere beyond its borders.

This prudent approach is based on the understanding that Israel, a small state endowed with limited resources, lacks the capacity for political engineering in the Middle East. A growing Iranian presence near Israel's borders and the reestablishment of an eastern front might become a serious military challenge.

The disengagement of the U.S. from the Middle East, accentuated by the foreign policy of then-President Barak Obama, continues. Under Obama, the attempts to engage Syria and Iran were generally viewed as weakness, perceptions that were reinforced by the signing of the JCPOA with Iran. The obsessive campaign to defeat ISIS, started by Obama and continued by President Donald Trump, primarily helped Iranian schemes.

The new Trump administration has failed so far to formulate a coherent approach to the Middle East.

The new Trump administration has failed so far to formulate a coherent approach to the Middle East. Moreover, the gradual erosion in the U.S. capability to project force into the region amplifies the sense that America has lost the ability to play a role in regional politics.

The vacuum created by American feebleness has been filled to some extent by the Russians. The Russian military intervention in the Syrian civil war saved the Assad regime from defeat. It constrained Turkey's involvement in Syria and helped Iranian encroachment in the region.

The regional vacuum created by U.S. feebleness invites growing Russian and Chinese involvement.

We also see growing Chinese interest. The ambitious One Belt One Road infrastructure project tries to tie the Middle East to Chinese economic and political endeavors. China inaugurated its first overseas naval base in Djibouti in July 2017. Located astride a crucial maritime choke point, the military installation is symbolic of its growing confidence as an emerging global power, capable of projecting military force and directly protecting its interests in the Middle East, Africa and the western Indian Ocean.
Yet extra-regional powers can hardly change the political dynamics in the region. The regional forces are usually decisive in determining political outcomes. Moreover, Middle East history provides many examples of external actors being manipulated by regional powers for their own schemes.

Adopting such a perspective on outsiders, and in view of the deep crisis in the Arab world, it stands to reason that the relations between Iran and Turkey will be a key factor in designing the future trends in the region. They are the two largest powers and they are both ambitious and capable enough to play a serious role. Despite the historical rivalry and the dividing Shiite-Sunni religious identity that could lead to competition, it seems that they are cooperating. Turkey and Iran have discussed possible joint military action against Kurdish militant groups. Both are siding with Qatar. Both are using Islamic motifs and anti-Israel positions to win hearts in the Arab world. We may well see an Iranian-Turkish duumvirate in the Middle East, but the statist interests and the different interpretation of Islam could push the two former empires into an adversarial relationship.

Efraim Inbar, professor emeritus of political studies at Bar-Ilan University and former director of the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies, is a Shillman-Ginsburg fellow at the Middle East Forum.
231  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Jonah Goldberg: The Revenge of El Jabato on: August 27, 2017, 12:44:43 PM

232  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Kid Rock on: August 27, 2017, 12:31:46 PM
233  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Iran on: August 27, 2017, 10:25:07 AM
I do not see it as Trump breaking his word but rather a matter of Tillerson being right-- withdrawing is not really an option.

Given the perhaps purposeful stupidity of Obama-Kerry in how they structured the deal, as best as I can tell we have zero leverage and zero benefit from exiting the deal.  THE IRANIANS ALREADY HAVE THE MONEY AND ALREADY HAVE VARIOUS ACTORS (German, French, Russians, Chinese, et al) DOING FULL SCALE BUSINESS ONCE AGAIN.

Were we to exit, the Iranians go nuke right now.
234  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Debbie did Bernie , , , in. on: August 27, 2017, 01:42:06 AM
235  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Peel off Pashtunistan on: August 27, 2017, 01:32:19 AM
A fair and reasoned opinion YA, to which I would add my particular refrain about peeling off Pashtunistan from both Afghanistan and Pakistan.
236  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Dog Brothers Opening Gathering of the Pack on: August 26, 2017, 04:01:55 PM
Fighters, if you email it in, please remember to put your name in the Subject Line of your email.

1:  Kai Javier
2:  Lamont Glass
3:  Jason Jones
4:  Gordon Walker

237  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / First grader sent to principal's office for misgendering on: August 26, 2017, 03:28:49 PM
"A public CHARTER school in California"?  

Regardless, that this happens at all , , ,

238  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Four countries hit w visa sanctions on: August 26, 2017, 02:22:28 PM
239  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Glick: Netanyahu's empathy for Trump on: August 26, 2017, 02:18:04 PM
second post
240  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Russia magnifies the Alt Right on: August 26, 2017, 02:16:30 PM
241  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Michael Yon: Trump going in circles in Afpakia-- highly recommended on: August 26, 2017, 01:59:11 PM
242  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Michael Yon: Trump going in circles in Afpakia on: August 26, 2017, 01:58:21 PM
243  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Trump vs. Congress on: August 26, 2017, 01:44:40 PM
No surprise that this is the take on things by "The Hill"
244  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / VDH: The Double Standard in the Progressive War against the Dead on: August 26, 2017, 01:36:33 PM

The Double Standard in the Progressive War against the Dead
245  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Shapiro to speak at Berkeley on: August 26, 2017, 11:48:34 AM
246  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / The Chaos of President Trump on: August 26, 2017, 11:26:13 AM
Pretty potent stuff
247  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / DOJ drops request for visitor IP addresses related to anii-Trump on: August 26, 2017, 11:25:02 AM
248  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / McMaster on: August 26, 2017, 11:18:34 AM
249  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Gregg Allman on: August 26, 2017, 09:26:40 AM

By Alan Paul
Aug. 26, 2017 7:00 a.m. ET

Gregg Allman had been working on “My Only True Friend” with guitarist Scott Sharrard for a few months when they met for a songwriting session in Mr. Allman’s New York hotel room in March 2014. The Allman Brothers Band was in the midst of its final year of performances, after which Mr. Allman would dedicate himself to performances with his solo band, for which Mr. Sharrard was the musical director.

As they settled down with acoustic guitars, Mr. Allman dropped some heavy news: He had terminal liver cancer. Though he wished to keep the news secret, it seemed to shift his songwriting ideas.

“He scratched out a line of the song and added a new one: ‘I hope you’re haunted by the music of my soul when I’m gone,’” Mr. Sharrard recalls.
Mr. Allman and Scott Sharrard performed at the Georgia Theatre in 2015 in Athens, Ga.
Mr. Allman and Scott Sharrard performed at the Georgia Theatre in 2015 in Athens, Ga. Photo: Chris McKay/Getty Images

With the new lyric, “My Only True Friend” transformed from a classic road song to an aching farewell to his fans. It is now the lead single and emotional centerpiece of “Southern Blood,” the final solo album by Mr. Allman, who died on May 27 at age 69. The album is set for release Sept. 8.

“As soon as I heard ‘My Only True Friend,’ I thought the song was a shockingly honest confessional, that he was laying himself out and standing naked,” producer Don Was says. “He was telling you the key to his life, because he wanted to tie up the loose ends for the people who had stuck with him for decades and also for himself. He was making sense of the totality of his life.
Watch “My Only True Friend”

“Gregg was fully realized when he was on stage playing for his fans. What you saw on stage was the real guy, and all the troubles he encountered had to do with not knowing what to do with himself the rest of the time,” Mr. Was says.

“Southern Blood” was recorded with Mr. Allman’s touring band at Fame Studios in Muscle Shoals, Ala., where Mr. Allman’s brother Duane first made his name as a session musician with Wilson Pickett, Boz Scaggs and others. The band played live with Gregg Allman singing along, and most of the performances on the album were captured in the first or second takes.

A noted perfectionist, Mr. Allman planned to do vocal overdubs, to add his voice to two more completed musical tracks and to finish some tunes he was working on with Mr. Sharrard and keyboardist Peter Levin. Mr. Sharrard says there were also plans to write with Bonnie Raitt, Jason Isbell and others.

All of this was rendered impossible by Mr. Allman’s health struggles, so aside from “My Only True Friend” and one other Allman/Sharrard song, “Southern Blood” leans heavily on covers. Most of the material has an autumnal feel and underlying theme of mortality, notably Bob Dylan’s “Going, Going, Gone,” the Grateful Dead’s “Black Muddy River” and “Once I Was” by Tim Buckley, the California folkie who had a large influence on Mr. Allman’s songwriting. The album closes with a duet with Mr. Allman’s old friend Jackson Browne on Mr. Browne’s elegiac “Song for Adam.”

“The sessions were powerful because we all knew what he was singing about and why we were there,” Mr. Was says. The producer, who has worked with the Rolling Stones, Van Morrison, Ms. Raitt and many others, grew emotional discussing the monumental task of helping Mr. Allman achieve his dying vision.
Gregg Allman and Don Was rehearsed onstage ahead of a concert tribute to Mavis Staples in Chicago in 2014. Mr. Was produced Mr. Allman’s final album.
Gregg Allman and Don Was rehearsed onstage ahead of a concert tribute to Mavis Staples in Chicago in 2014. Mr. Was produced Mr. Allman’s final album. Photo: Rick Diamond/Getty Images

“Even in such a heavy atmosphere, we had a lot of fun, and the mood was effusive because we knew we were getting it,” Mr. Was says. “Gregg was digging in deep and he was oozing heart and soul, even in spots where he might not have had the lung power that he once had. He wanted to do vocal overdubs, but honestly if he had been able to, maybe we would have cleansed away some of the soul.”

By the time of the recording sessions, in March 2016, Mr. Allman had already outlived his diagnosis by several years. In 2012, two years after undergoing a liver transplant, he learned that he had a recurrence of liver cancer and was given 12 to 18 months to live, according to manager Michael Lehman.

“The doctors said the cancer could not be cured, but treatment could extend his life. But radiation treatment would have risked damaging his vocal cords and he refused, because he wanted to play music as long as he could,” Mr. Lehman says. “He wanted to enjoy his life and to perform until he simply could not.”

Mr. Allman played his final show in Atlanta on Oct. 29, 2016. As he rested and eventually received hospice care in his Georgia home, Mr. Was worked to finish the album, adding minimal overdubs. Until the end, Mr. Allman discussed his illness with just a handful of people. Chank Middleton, a friend of almost 50 years who was a near constant companion and was with him in his final weeks, says that Mr. Allman remained upbeat until almost the very end.

“I knew for a few years and it was hard for me to accept, but he was the one with strong words,” Mr. Middleton says. “I never saw him stand up to anything or anyone as he stood up to death. He did not like confrontation, but he faced death like a strong soldier. He looked it in the eyes and said, ‘Death, I’m not scared of you and I’m not ready for you.’ ”
250  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: How the Post Office delivered for Hillary on: August 26, 2017, 09:22:04 AM

By The Editorial Board
Aug. 25, 2017 6:54 p.m. ET

Congress is digging into a report that the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) and its union broke federal law by engineering time off for employees to campaign for Hillary Clinton. With any luck, the probe will kick off a wider reform of taxpayer-subsidized union activity.

Senate and House committee chairmen Ron Johnson and Trey Gowdy this week sent letters to 10 cabinet departments, requesting information about their policies governing what’s known as union Leave Without Pay. The letter follows a July report by the Office of Special Counsel (OSC)—the federal agency that investigates government employment practices—revealing that senior leaders of the USPS “improperly coordinated” with the National Association of Letter Carriers to engineer time off for nearly 100 employees for election purposes.

Federal employees can apply for leave without pay, but this case was a union-engineered job. The union provided management with lists of names, and the USPS sent these out in email “directives,” telling local offices to grant specific leave requests.

The employees were sometimes granted leave over the objections of local postmasters, who faced staffing shortages and overtime costs. The employees then joined an AFL-CIO program to work for Mrs. Clinton and other candidates, and were paid for their time off with union funds.

OSC calls this a “systematic” violation of the Hatch Act, which governs the political activities of federal workers. Government employees are allowed to engage in politics, but on their own time, and federal agencies are required to administer leave programs in a neutral fashion. In the USPS case, the OSC found an “institutional bias” in favor of union-backed candidates, meaning Democrats.

The Office of Personnel Management (OPM) separately looked at what is known as “official time,” when federal employees can do union work in lieu of their regular assignments. According to figures from fiscal 2014, federal employees racked up 3.47 million hours of official time, at a cost to taxpayers of $163 million. A January report from the Government Accountability Office found that at the Department of Veterans Affairs federal employees spent 1.1 million hours performing union duties on official time in 2012.

While federal law permits official time, agencies aren’t required to track or report the hours. A 2012 GAO report implied that the actual number of official time hours, and the cost to government, was significantly higher than anything OPM reported. Not that OPM tries hard to keep track. Prior its March report, the last time it looked at official time was in 2012.

In May the House passed a bill sponsored by Rep. Dennis Ross (R., Fla.) that would require OPM to compile statistics on official time each year. Mr. Johnson should push it in the Senate while expanding his USPS probe to the broader misuse of government time.

The unions are howling about the Ross bill, and Senate Democrats may filibuster. But Republicans should be happy to stand on the side of more transparency and accountability. Taxpayers have a heavy enough lift without underwriting partisan politics.

Appeared in the August 26, 2017, print edition.
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